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The Behavioral Economics Design Initiative hosted its inaugural conference at Pitt

Posvar Hall Yellow Sculpture

The University of Pittsburgh hosted the inaugural conference of the Behavioral Economics Design Initiative (BEDI) Sept. 24 and 25 at Wesley W. Posvar Hall.

Led by BEDI Director and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Economics Lise Vesterlund, the conference centered on current research in five focus areas: women’s advancement, charitable giving, health economics, labor markets and market design.

“The BEDI inaugural conference marked the beginning of the largest united initiative for translating research in behavioral economics into practical guidance on the design of economic institutions,” Vesterlund said. “The conference celebrated the start of an ambitious collaborative initiative between organizations, faculty and students: a collaboration that will use economic and behavioral insights to develop procedures and processes that transform the world for the better.”

Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd delivered opening remarks for the conference.

“I hope that this weekend for all of you is fruitful and leads to great ideas, great collaborations," Cudd said. “We're thrilled to host it here.”

The conference featured more than 30 presenters from universities around the city, the country and the world. Featured speakers from Pitt included economics faculty members Stephanie Wang, Osea Giuntella, David Huffman and Alistair Wilson.

In addition to her role as director, Vesterlund leads the initiative’s research areas in women’s advancement and charitable giving. Wang is the lead affiliate for health economics, while Huffman and Wilson direct the areas of labor markets and market design, respectively.

“BEDI is currently working with organizations to equalize the opportunities given to male and female employees,” Vesterlund said. “This is done through institutional changes in how work is allocated and rewarded, and through efforts to develop less biased performance evaluations. Common to many of BEDI’s institutional designs is that they come at limited costs to stake holders and yet reap substantial benefits.”


— Carly Weisenbach